Withdrawal Bill 1) Davis signals openness to improved Parliamentary oversight of the Brexit process

‘David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, has said he will consider giving parliament greater oversight of EU withdrawal, as the government seeks to head off a rebellion by centrist Conservative MPs. Several pro-EU Tories joined opposition MPs in criticising the scope of ministerial powers proposed in the repeal bill, which sets the legal framework for Brexit and was debated in the Commons on Thursday. Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative attorney-general, said the bill was an “astonishing monstrosity” which could lead to “a marked diminution in the rights of the individual and of corporate entities”. Mr Davis said he stood ready to “listen to those who offer improvements”. The government is unlikely to face defeat in votes on the bill at its second reading, scheduled for Monday, but could face trouble at subsequent stages later this year.’ – FT


Withdrawal Bill 2) Thirty Labour MPs express concerns about Starmer’s decision to Whip against the legislation

‘Jeremy Corbyn is facing a Commons rebellion next week after Eurosceptic Labour MPs accused him of ‘trying to scupper Brexit’ by blocking vital new legislation. The Labour leader was under fire after confirming he will order his MPs to oppose the EU Withdrawal Bill in a crunch Commons vote on Monday. Thirty Labour MPs have met with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer to raise concerns about the stance, warning that it will be seen as a betrayal by millions of Labour voters who backed Brexit. But, as the flagship legislation began its passage through parliament, Sir Keir confirmed that Labour is implacably opposed to it, even though it has no alternative plan for implementing Brexit.’ – Daily Mail

Withdrawal Bill 3) Fernandes and Baker accused of disloyalty over ERG Brexit letter

‘Theresa May is being urged by pro-Remain Conservative MPs to sack a minister and a Treasury aide accused of supporting a letter designed to lock the prime minister into a hard Brexit. Steve Baker, a minister in the Brexit department, and Suella Fernandes, an aide to the chancellor, intervened on a private online messaging group that encouraged MPs to sign the letter. The letter, signed by dozens of Tory MPs, says that Britain should not pay into the EU budget during a transition period and must be able to sign trade deals straight after Brexit in March 2019. ..The demands are at odds with a “standstill” transition deal pushed by Philip Hammond, under which Britain would have full access to the single market and customs union…Mr Baker, her predecessor as chairman before he entered government, sent a message yesterday morning to the group that said: “Thanks for everyone’s support.”…His spokesman said last night: “Steve was happy to welcome the support of MPs in his first dispatch box experience.’ – The Times

  • Nicky Morgan and Stephen Hammond attack the pair – The Sun
  • Their so-called ‘hard Brexit’ is just Brexit, plain and simple – The Sun Says
  • May is caught between two potential rebellions – The Sun
  • Arron Banks writes to constituents of Hammond and Rudd – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Conservative revolts on Europe are coming now not from Leavers – but from former Remainers

Downing Street reviews policies on housing and student debt

‘Theresa May’s government is looking at ways to make housing more affordable and tackle the burden of tuition fees, in an attempt to win back support from younger voters. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, called for submissions from MPs on how to close the generational gap as he addressed a meeting of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 committee this week. He told the private meeting on Wednesday night that young people needed more help than their older counterparts because they were burdened with heavy debts, including tuition fees. Lord Willetts, a former Tory cabinet minister who chairs the Resolution Foundation — the UK think-tank that is focused on improving living standards — was also invited to Number 10 this week for a meeting with James Marshall, Downing Street’s head of policy.’ – FT

University vice-chancellors fight back against efforts to curb their pay

‘Vice-chancellors are rebelling against government attempts to limit pay, warning that any attempt by governing boards to cut their salaries would breach employment law. Under new measures, universities will have to justify salaries higher than £150,000 to a new watchdog or be hit with fines. Vice-chancellors said that since governing boards have no powers to reduce pay once it is established in a contract, they would pay the fines rather than risk a tribunal. Jo Johnson, the universities minister, confronted vice-chancellors yesterday over failure to tackle excessive pay. One vice-chancellor told The Times: “My board cannot force a pay cut on me. They would end up at a tribunal. They will just have to take the fine.”’ – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Row over university pay arises because we expect them to be two things in one

Lammy report alleges racial bias in the justice system

‘Prosecutions against some black and minority-ethnic suspects should be deferred or dropped to help tackle the criminal justice system’s bias against them, according to a highly critical report written by the Labour MP David Lammy at the request of the prime minister. Lammy said allowances should also be made for younger defendants’ immaturity and criminal records should be sealed to help former offenders find work, adding that statistics suggested discrimination in the UK was worse than in the US in some cases. “My conclusion is that BAME individuals still face bias, including overt discrimination, in parts of the justice system,” the MP says in his report. His findings provide facts that people from minority ethnic backgrounds have argued for decades. The MP highlighted the fact that there was “greater disproportionality” in the number of black people in prisons in England and Wales than in the US.’ – The Guardian

>Today: Michael Farmer on Comment: How family members can help prisoners to break their cycle of crime

The Telegraph accuses Ian Paisley Jr of failing to declare hospitality from the Sri Lankan government

‘One of the Northern Irish MPs propping up Theresa May’s government accepted holidays worth £100,000 from a country he is now helping to secure a post-Brexit trade deal, The Telegraph can reveal. Ian Paisley Jr, one of the Democratic Unionist Party’s most prominent MPs, accepted two all-expenses-paid trips from the Sri Lankan government. Documents seen by the Telegraph show that Mr Paisley took his wife and four children to the country. They flew business class, stayed in the finest hotels and were provided with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, all paid for by the Sri Lankan government. During discussions with officials, he offered to help the state broker an oil deal, saying he had “significant arrangements with national oil suppliers” in Oman and Nigeria. The trips, which were never disclosed in the Commons register of interests, will raise serious questions about the influence and interests of the MP.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • He dismisses the claims as ‘defamatory’ and ‘devoid of fact or logic’ – Twitter

Questions over the apprenticeships that were meant to be funded by Libor fines

‘Millions of pounds of fines levied on banks that the Conservatives promised would be used to fund apprenticeships have not created extra opportunities, auditors have suggested. The National Audit Office accused the Department for Education of failing to demonstrate that it had used £200 million from the Libor fund to set up 50,000 new apprenticeships on top of those already announced. The department did not directly address the accusation but said thousands of apprenticeships had been created. An internal inquiry by financial regulators in 2012 revealed that several banks in America and Europe were profiting from manipulating Libor, the benchmark interest rate for loans between banks that is set in London. British regulators fined the banks £688 million, with all proceeds destined for the “benefit of the public”.’ – The Times

Proctor sues the police over mishandled child abuse investigation

‘Former MP Harvey Proctor has said he will sue the Metropolitan Police over their handling of the investigation into historical child sex abuse allegations against him. Mr Proctor told ITV News he had been “mentally and physically destroyed” by the claims that he was part of a Westminster paedophile ring. He said he planned to sue for loss of earnings and his home, and criticised the police for failing to respond to his lawyers’ petition for compensation…”These are difficult matters and I wouldn’t want to negotiate on television what my lawyers are trying to settle with the lawyers for the police,” he said. “But it obviously has to take account of the fact that a job I loved doing I can no longer do. I fully intended to work for another 10 years doing that job. It’s a job, not a physical job, and I could have done that. Also the house that went with the job, I expected to die in that house. I have no home now.”‘ – Daily Telegraph

  • Police pass evidence on ‘Nick’ to the CPS – The Times

The UK ups its Hurricane Irma aid package to £32 million

‘Prime Minister Theresa May has upped Britain’s Hurricane Irma aid package to £32million. The category five storm is continuing to tear a deadly trail through the Caribbean. It has already left thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Mrs May’s response came after the UK Government was slammed over its ‘pathetic’ response. Britain has sent hundreds of troops and the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to its overseas islands battered by Hurricane Irma.’ – Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Massive data brach at Equifax – The Times
  • Trinity Mirror begins talks to buy the Express – FT
  • Israeli jets strike Syrian weapons factory – The Times
  • Bell Pottinger staff are told the company is on the verge of administration – City AM
  • Mother of imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader visits Downing Street – The Sun
  • Le Carre compares Trump to the rise of fascism in the 1930s – Daily Telegraph
  • Mexican earthquake triggers tsunami – The Guardian